AIC 400th

Our story begins with a Sunday sermon in 1617 given by St. Vincent de Paul, a priest at the small parish of Chatillon-les-Dombes in the Diocese of Lyons, France. Fifty women were so moved by the dire needs of a poor suffering family and by Vincent’s stirring words that after church together they provided for the family's needs. That same spirit characterizes the Association around the world today, 400 years later.

Timeline of the Ladies of Charity of the United States of America, member of the International Association of Charities of St. Vincent de Paul (the "AIC").

1617-08-22 00:00:00


The first inspiration occurred in Châtillon-les-Dombes in a homily by Vincent de Paul, to which more than 50 women responded and provided services to a family in need. St. Vincent founded the first lay organization to work with the poor (all women) and called it the Confraternity of Charities. This was in August 1617 and on December 8 the official rule of the Confraternity was accepted by the Bishop of Lyons.

1625-01-25 08:29:37

Congregation of the Mission

In 1625, St. Vincent and three priests pledged to, in his own words, “ live together as a Congregation… and to devote ourselves to the salvation of the poor country folk.” The Congregation of the Mission is later approved in the Papal Bull Salvatoris Nostri. It is affirmed that the Congregation was founded for the evangelization of the poor and must ensure the founding of Confraternities of Charity so that the poor are served and that lay people are included in the evangelization.

1629-05-06 08:29:37

St. Louise de Marillac, Visitor of the Confraternities of Charity

Vincent de Paul named Louise de Marillac Visitor of the Confraternities of Charity, saying “Go, therefore, Mademoiselle, go in the name of Our Lord…shelter in rain and cold, your soft bed in weariness, your strength in your toil, and, finally, that He may bring you back in perfect health and filled with good works.”

1632-05-06 08:29:37

St. Louise Organizes the Charities

Louise visited and organized the Charities in Paris and the surrounding villages.

1633-11-29 00:00:00

Daughters of Charity

The Company of the Daughters of Charity was founded, to which Saint Vincent entrusted the expansion of the Charities.

1634-08-01 00:00:00

Spread of Confraternities

The Charities expanded to Italy (1634) and then Poland (1651). The Confraternity was already international during St. Vincent’s lifetime. Over centuries it developed in numerous countries, including Belgium and Germany.

1789-08-01 00:00:00

Effects of French Revolution

The French Revolution obliged the Confraternity of Charity to stop its activities in Paris and throughout France. This broke the connection with associations in other countries where the Confraternity of Charity continued to flourish.

1840-08-01 00:00:00

Reestablished After the Revolution

At the request of the Archbishop of Paris the Charities were reestablished in Paris and the rest of France and contact with the associations in other countries was renewed.

1857-08-01 00:00:00

First Association in the United States

Catherine Harkins established the first Ladies of Charity Association in the United States at St. Vincent’s parish in St. Louis, MO. She was inspired by a vision of St. Vincent walking through the streets collecting homeless children. In 1860, Fr. Urban Gagnepain. Catherine Harkins' pastor, was moved to New Orleans and started the second association in the United States. It spread from there.

1909-08-01 00:00:00

Junior Ladies of Charity

During the nineteenth century in France and in Italy, many groups of young girls are engaged in various charitable works. The organization of a Junior Confraternities of Charity branch is canonically recognized. In many countries the young girls were called Louisettes after St. Louise de Marillac.

AIC 400th

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